Comfort Food in a Time of Discomfort - 27 East

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Comfort Food in a Time of Discomfort

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Korean Steamed Eggs

Korean Steamed Eggs

author on Mar 24, 2020

“Comfort food” has taken on a new and intense meaning in this anxious time of social distancing and self-isolation.

When your home has become a combination school room/workplace/movie theater/restaurant, it’s more important than ever to be able to make simple, feel-good dishes with shelf-stable ingredients.

Avid bulk shopper that I am, I had already stocked my pantry with a month’s supply of pasta, rice, beans and canned tomatoes before these items started flying off supermarket shelves a few weeks ago. Three dozen eggs, some shrink-wrapped Parmesan, Gruyere, mozzarella, and Manchego from Costco, and a few pounds of shrimp, chicken and chopped meat in the freezer felt like money in the bank.

When my younger daughter had to return from her study-abroad program in Madrid suddenly, I had just a few hours to buy everything else I needed in the house for a two-week self-quarantine before picking her up at the airport and temporarily saying goodbye to the rest of the world.

To get organized, I made a list of dinners I could produce in rotation without leaving home. This is what we’ve eaten for the past few days, and what I’m planning on cooking for the next few. And then I’ll do it all over again:

• Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas: Flour tortillas keep well in the refrigerator. Fill them with a combination of frozen corn, canned beans, onions, garlic, a chopped chipotle chile, and shredded cheddar or jack cheese.

• Chickpea Shakshuka: I got this amazingly hearty version of this North African classic from America’s Test Kitchen. Saute some onions and jarred roasted red peppers, stir in chickpeas and smoked paprika, add a can of crushed tomatoes and a can of drained chickpeas, and cook some eggs on top of the sauce. Finish with a sprinkling of goat cheese.

• Gruyere, Onion and Bacon Pizza: All of these topping ingredients keep well in the refrigerator. I also have pre-sliced mozzarella in the refrigerator and canned diced tomatoes for another version. (My husband laughed when I brought home a 20-pound bag of flour — but who’s laughing now that homemade pizza dough has become a necessity?)

* Pasta: I already have Bolognese sauce frozen and ready to be thawed. I am also planning on making a spicy tomato sauce with crushed tomatoes, garlic, chopped pepperoncini, hot red pepper flakes, and anchovies. And then there’s cacio e pepe, with Parmesan, black pepper and a little bit of heavy cream.

• Roasted tofu: Roast slices of tofu on a sheet pan covered with foil, then top with a sauce made of roasted red peppers, garlic, walnuts, a little bit of vinegar or lemon juice, and some Aleppo pepper. I serve this on top of lemony couscous. Yum!

I told the (adult) children (my older daughter has come home from Brooklyn and is working remotely during this crisis) that they’re on their own for breakfast and lunch, but sometimes I’ll cook for them anyway when they wake up in the morning.

Today, I made Korean-style steamed eggs and spooned them over short-grain rice. Since I began dabbling in Korean home cookery, this satisfyingly savory recipe has become a favorite for its simplicity.

To keep scallions fresh almost indefinitely in the refrigerator, place them, roots down, in a jar with an inch of water at the bottom, cover the scallions with a plastic bag, and secure the bag around the jar with a rubber band.

Hope to see some of you in the not-so-distant future. In the meantime, eat well and stay healthy.

Korean Steamed Eggs

Serves 2

1½ cups low-sodium canned chicken broth

3 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons chopped scallions (white and light green parts)

1. In a small, heavy saucepan (I use a Le Creuset enameled cast-iron pot) over medium heat, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add 3 cracked eggs and 1 egg yolk to a bowl.

2. While the broth is heating up, in a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, yolk, fish sauce, and 1½ tablespoons of scallions.

3. Lower the heat under the broth to a simmer. Pour in the egg mixture and stir well to combine. Cover and cook at a bare simmer until the egg mixture has a texture like soft tofu, 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Remove the pot from the heat, drizzle with sesame oil, and sprinkle with the remaining ½ tablespoon of scallions. Spoon some rice into small bowls, spoon some egg and broth on top of rice, and serve.

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